Hate, as I used to say to my second wife, is a four letter word.
This was my way of responding to a word choice that was too extreme, generally not fitting for the occasion, whatever the occasion might have been. It was my way of tossing back the word, shorn of passion, so that she might look at it again and reconsider.
This tactic had never once been effective.
Why do men expect that women, given enough practice, might become like men? Perhaps we believe that they have simply never been shown enough patience. Now, through constant exposure to the right-mindedness that is the cornerstone of the male psyche, they will learn and become what they must always have wanted to be anyway, but just did not know how. All they need is a little guidance.
It is laughable, of course. Nonetheless, it is the first prison from which the mind of the man must escape, for he can hardly even so much as begin as long as he is trapped between his own four walls.
It takes awhile. It takes some effort. He is, after all, digging with a spoon, and the prison walls, in the male’s case, are generally somewhere around 10 miles thick.
In the woman’s case, there are no walls at all. But this is the shape of her own prison, and something about which I know but little.
I hate you, Sant Louis said, and she meant it.
It so happens in life that people’s responses are not often what we would like or expect them to be.
It is sad to say, but the fact is that when one discovers he has a disease, one of the first things he learns about life thereafter is that no one really gives a damn.
You discover for the first time, or at least more clearly than ever before, how completely enclosed people are within themselves. Your disease will get a lot of lip service from casual acquaintances. It will be a conversation starter, yet will cease to be the subject as soon as the conversation gets off the ground. They will show their concern by asking after your disease, as if it had been an estranged child or a sickly mother, but will quickly change the subject as soon as things threaten to become specific. One wants to reveal himself as a caring human being, without having truly to care. Perhaps they have been praying for you (they say). Perhaps they saw something on TV. Perhaps their cousin’s friend ran the last race for the cure (it matters not for which disease, for diseases are all of one type of circumstance).
Very often they will have a suggestion.
Mangosteen, they will say.
Fish oil. Exercise.
Vitamins and minerals. Or worse yet, they will have a cure. Stem cell therapy! It’s done wonders for my arthritis, and at 50 bucks a bottle, it still beats the money these pharmaceuticals and your doctors want. Kickbacks, that’s what they’re all about. They are all well intentioned, of course. Just trying to help. Or are they? Perhaps they are really just selling something—doing good, while putting a few bucks in their own pockets. Ya think?
I heard on the radio the other morning that if people would consume 30 percent less fat in their daily diet they could add perhaps 25 years to their lives. You could, for instance, live to be 115 instead of 90.
Is that a depressing thought or what?
In any case, I’m adding fat, not cutting it. It is the natural balm, or so I hear, for most all illnesses, especially MS. Fish fat, that is. Ever wonder why you don’t see so many fat fish around anymore? It is because MS has made a fish-fat-sucking industry out of the poor critters. Involuntary liposuction.
And then there is the fat from flax seeds, which I also guzzle. I have never seen a flax seed in person, but I am picturing that it must be a heck of a big seed for any significant amount of oil to be sucked out—maybe something the size of a tomato, or even a watermelon.
I wonder what the flax itself looks like? Seems like all you ever hear about is the seed of the flax and the oil thereof.
The apostle Paul, speaking in II Corinthians regarding the resurrected body, does mention that the fruit will bear little or no resemblance to the seed (like the zucchini seed as opposed to the zucchini or the pumpkin seed as opposed to the pumpkin), and so I imagine that if the flax seed looks like a tomato, the flax itself may look something like a space station or an alligator. Who knows?
The fact is, I may be overdosing on a combination of oils and other disease modifying lubricants—fish oil, flaxseed oil, peanut oil, Oil of Olay, the oil from Popeye’s Chicken. I have this curious swimmy sort of feeling. My lips habitually make a puckering shape, as if I’m trying to suck up air rather than simply breathe it. The only oil I have not tried yet is motor oil. Seriously.
I find myself darting about rather than simply putting one foot in front of the other. I am suddenly fascinated by flies and other small insects. They make me feel . . . hungry.
The other night my wife accused me of flopping about in the bathtub rather than properly bathing. I swear, I stayed under water for perhaps thirty-five minutes!
I have noticed a strange, unsettling desire to lay eggs, thousands of eggs. I want to spawn. I cannot stop thinking of water, and yet I am not thirsty in the least.
I see a pan on the stove and I am compelled almost beyond stopping myself to jump in and simply fry.
Countless vitamins and supplements are also swimming through my veins. Vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, sublingual B12, Mangosteen, potassium, calcium, cinnamon, pumpernickel, snickerdoodle, apple schnitzel. My electrolytes are vibrating, humming like bumblebees.
Someone runs up to you—a friend, an acquaintance, a family member—to tell you about a miraculous new cure for MS he has found in a magazine or a newspaper, or has heard on the radio or seen on the TV. A pill, an herb, an oil, a potion.
It has happened to me often enough. And I can’t help but ask myself the following questions
1. First off, do you really think, what with me being the one who has MS, that I haven’t seen and looked into all these miracle cures? 2. Do you imagine that I’m just being stubborn? That I like being ill so that people will feel sorry for me? 3. Do you think if such a cure truly existed that doctors might be interested in it too? 4. Do you imagine that I am merely a poor dupe of greed, unaccountably sticking with expensive medicines when I could procure a better by mail order for $21.95? 5. Do you think I’m simply too lazy to read about and research my illness? Hot dang, the cure was right there in front of my nose all along! Good grief.
Yes, I know they mean well. And that’s part of the problem. What is one to say? Do you first force your lips into a callow smile. Wow! That’s amazing! Tell me more. Lemme see that article, dude! Do you buy the potion in which they so enthusiastically believe (having taken the time, after all, to read a four paragraph article in the newspaper)? Do you tell them that you’ve already heard of this bullshit and run the risk not only of alienating a friend but being labeled as bullheaded and obstinate for not even trying? Do you tell them that it is they who are in fact being duped by the miracle cure as seen on TV, pills containing nothing of any more substance that birdseed, peddled by people who attend ITTL seminars (I take the lead), and who know that $19.95 is just as good as $1000 in the bank if it is turned over enough times. Why is it, for instance, that stem cells cure so very many maladies? Could it be because there is so very much money to be made in multiplicity?
Not wanting to appear recalcitrant or stubbornly unwilling, I actually tried the stem cell cure. I’m not sure what they actually put in these pills, but I’m pretty sure it is not stem cells, although admittedly I did not open any capsules to see. Perhaps I was afraid of what might wriggle out on the countertop. In any case, I was apparently not injured in any way. When I mentioned this to my neurologist, however, he advised that I quit the pills right away, on the off chance that something might actually happen.
“Given that your autoimmune system is already over-excited,” he said, “why would you want to excite it any further?”
Good point, I thought. I quit the stem cells and declined further purchase from the nice lady at church who had initially made the offer (or offered the cure). "But you have to give it time,” she said.
I shared then what my doctor had said.
She frowned. There it was. That sad old American faith in the corrupt medical establishment.
My Owen was on them for three months for his depression, and now he’s happy as a lark. You have to give them at least three months. I thanked her again, of course. I said that I wished they had worked as well for me as they had for Owen.
Well then, enjoy your MS. We’ll still be praying for you. Because the thing about you is that you just don’t want to be better. Prayer.
Fish oil (squeezed fresh from the living fish, of course).